7 Low-Cost Marketing Tips Every Startup Can Afford

The struggle to stay cash positive is one of the most dangerous and life-threatening for startups. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) estimates the average cost to start a business at around $30,000. This figure varies widely, with some businesses starting for as little as $100 and others requiring millions.

Remember, these are just startup costs. All the while, new businesses are struggling to secure enough revenue to stay afloat.

In this desperate financial balancing act, most entrepreneurs abandon investments they deem unnecessary, like marketing and advertising. The cruel irony is that ignoring marketing completely stunts a company’s growth, leaving it with less revenue and a tighter budget.

Not surprisingly, marketing gets the axe frequently, with roughly 80% of entrepreneurs unable to measure marketing ROI.

That said, effective marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Some marketing strategies are more visible and consistent than others, but there are plenty of highly effective — and low-cost — marketing strategies you can use to grow your startup. Here are nine low-cost marketing tips:

  • Referrals
  • Content Marketing
  • PPC ads
  • SEO
  • Press releases news features
  • Self-promotion
  • Social media marketing

1. Referrals

One of the best ways to market is to let your customers do it for you. Consider that people are four times more likely to buy a product if a friend recommends it.

Despite tech magazine reviews, we trust personal recommendations the most. Moreover, establishing a referral program is inexpensive, and in some cases, free. If you really believe in this strategy, you could offer current customers a discount on their subscriptions or a cash reward for referring new customers.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing comes in many forms and costs little. The simplest approach is to maintain an on-site blog with fresh content added weekly that informs or entertains your readers.

Content marketing includes infographics, videos, and podcasts. All of these content types can help improve your brand’s reputation, increase inbound traffic, and complement other strategies.

3. PPC ads

Pay-per-click ads can get expensive if you target high-traffic head keywords, but there are niches and platforms that are budget-friendly. For example, on Facebook, certain ads can be purchased for as little as $1 per day.

4. SEO

If you’re writing articles for your content marketing campaign, why not invest in SEO?. It may appear difficult, but with a little reading and dedication, you can easily grasp the basics. You can use online tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer to find relevant keywords that have low competition and then tweak your site to include them.

Create high-quality content and build links to your domain. It’s a lot of work, but the only cost is time, and the long-term benefits are enormous.

5. Press releases news features

People read the news, and most news outlets will gladly report your story for you. You can get your brand mentioned in major publications for a relatively low cost. Press releases can be a free marketing strategy if you do all the research and emailing of journalists.

A release syndicated through a service like PR Newswire may cost several hundred dollars. Get yourself referenced by donating to Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

6. Self-promotion

Personal branding is similar to corporate branding, but it applies to you as an individual. Then you’ll promote yourself and your expertise on social media, and maybe even a separate blog, gaining new followers and traffic.

People trust people more than corporations, so you’ll eventually have a powerful outlet to syndicate your content or attract new leads — all without spending a dime.

7. Social media marketing

Social media marketing isn’t something you can do on the side, but it is something you can learn if you put in the effort. Create a business profile on major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Compile a list of content that your target market will enjoy.

Reach out to people and stay connected. With time, you could amass a tens of thousands-strong audience.

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